I was in my thirties the first time I ate foods like hummus or feta cheese, at least on purpose. Throughout my twenties, my food experiences were brief, processed endeavors that were shoved hand to mouth after being bagged, heated, or made from concentrate. Cultured I was not. To me, olive oil was that indecisive skinny chick who liked sailors.
I spent my bachelor days saving bacon grease in a jar for the next go round, and it wasn’t until I was 32 that I at my first vegetarian taco. Coincidently, this was around when I met my wife. By the time I knew something was amiss, I was also eating vegetarian chili and even lasagna without blinking an eye. Well played, sneaky girlfriend who became sneaky wife, well played.
My son however likes nothing more than a good bowl of potato nokie and spinach, preferably with a dash of garlic. Yes he’s had his fill of Olive oil, and by the time he sees a Popeye cartoon, he’ll wonder what in the world of bean burgers is spinach doing in a can?
His food beginnings couldn’t be more different from my own. I was born in the seventies. When we ate pork chops served in a used ashtray with a side of asbestos. Snacks included staples such as Swiss Cake Rolls (I could proudly stuff one half completely in my mouth by the time I was four), Twinkies, Jiffy popcorn, Nutty Buddies. My cheese was yellow, in its natural powdered form, waiting to be mixed in with the accompanying noodles in the box. The rest of my food pyramid was built on a solid foundation of tv dinners, corn syrup cocktails, and Cracker Jacks. If I ate an apple, it’d better be wrapped in caramel. Fruits came in flavors, like lemon lime, grape, candy apple, blue raspberry, cherry cola...I could go on.
Looking back, I’m amazed that I’m not stuck in a bed because I can’t fit out of my house or that I have any teeth. Perhaps they're glued to my gums by the sweet adhesive of Sugar Daddies. I mean, we had candy cigarettes after all. My early childhood memories are like Willie Wonka meets Monday Night Football. Sports and junk food, like a filmstrip skipping around through a grainy orange hue with and Reo Speedwagon soundtrack.
For my son though, this isn’t the case. Not on Mom’s watch. Even the kid’s pizza has been ruined, with chopped up broccoli lurking underneath sheets of bubbly cheese. And he gobbles it right up, so I shouldn’t have been surprised last night when he wolfed down the Eggplant Parmesan without so much as a grimace. I watched in awe, wondering if in fact we’re even related. I mean, I’m the guy who wrote this. Meanwhile he’s shoveling in wheat noodles like they're a Mug-O-Lunch.
And can you imagine this poor kid at his first sleepover? Looking around at the spread of Papa John’s pizzas and breadsticks, brownies, maybe toss in one of those cookie pizzas, (this is my fantasy so I’ll set the table here). My poor son, he’ll search for the roasted pepper garlic. pita chips, the avocado spread. Anything green. Meanwhile his throat burning from all the soda.
Or maybe he’ll become a super human. That’s it! Maybe I was just some junk food away from going to the NBA. It all makes sense now. Several pallets loads Fruity Pebbles and 456 gallons of Kool-Aid must have caught up with me and ruined it. Yes, for sure. So for my son, it’s Wheaties and Whole Wheat. I think my wife is on to something here.